Sunday, September 10, 2006

Le Touquet

Le Touquet Paris-Plage Familiarisation Trip 6-8 September 2006

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It all started in a cocktail party by the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce when John Pinniger from PrimeWord International and I discussed the idea of a familiarisation trip to Le Touquet. We stopped on the dates in our busy diaries of 6-8th September.
This was very much a VIP trip: John and Aurelie took us in charge at Shoreham Airport on Wednesday 6. This was a very effortless check in with the custom officer coming to greet us as we were having a glass of chardonnay on the ground where our plane was waiting only 10 meters away, we did not realised that the pilot who came and welcomed us had already placed the luggage on board. 30 minutes later we were greeted at Le Touquet Airport by the director himself, Jean-Jacques and the Director of Tourism Pascal Maillet-Contoz, they both were excellent hosts throughout our stay. To paraphrase the Relais and Chateaux 5 C’s Courtesy, Charm, Character, Calm and Cuisine were at the 'rendezvous'.

The Westminster Hotel were we stayed has the 1930’s style that is permeated throughout Le Touquet. Le Touquet was very much created then by an English group as a Leisure Resort and this is very much, what this is to this date. The town now own most of the facilities that the previous owner (Groupe Lucien Barriere) has sold them.
At the head of all this leisure to include, racing, yachting, archery, tennis and a very full agenda of activities every weekend throughout the year is Pascal Maillet-Contoz, director of tourism, sports and culture.

After a quick drop in of our luggage, we visited the Museum, once a residence of the American Ambassador in the 1930’s were there a few very good modern pictures to include Vasarely and some local painters and various temporary exhibitions.
Dinner at the Hotel was the start of culinary experience that were carried in every hotels that we visited, they were all creative, innovative and our taste buds were further charmed by the choice of wines, obviously no expenses spared in greeting us.

On Thursday, we visited the Palais de L’Europe that surprisingly can take up to 1200 people for conferences. In term of numbers, Pascal tells me that up to 50,000 attend the fireworks at the end of June; they must come from everywhere to include Paris that is 2 hours by train. With about 1200 hotel bedrooms, you realise that the many villas in town must be quite busy at the weekends. The Town Hall employs 600 people out of which Pascal employs 120. There is a serene atmosphere all over town and yet there are many activities.

We visited the Bristol Hotel and the Pol Hotel (a boutique hotel) located near the market bustling with food, drinks, and trinkets and went for lunch at the Holiday Inn Resort that is more in touch with Intercontinental service than Holiday Inn, perhaps a renaming is in progress. The Deputy Mayor and the hotel sales team joined us for lunch.
After lunch was our initiation to sand yachting, boy that was fun! I really enjoyed it as you can see from the many pictures contained in the album.
Dinner was at Mercure Grand Hotel that is undergoing a major refurbishment and if it all carries on as the restaurant was just finished it will then be a cross between Sanderson Hotel and Embargo Club in London… very trendy.
The evening after was spend visiting other venues such as Champagne Bars, other venues, discotheque and Casinos showing that there is more activities after dark.

On Friday we were treated to a fantastic tour of the area by helicopter and we learned afterwards that the same helicopter was used to take photographs of the ‘France vue du Ciel’ apparently a beautiful book. I have to see that on Amazon! Followed by lunch at the Manoir Hotel that is surrounded by Golf Courses.

I shall be back!

Do ask me if you require further information, best wishes, Jean-François.